Wyrmspan – Dragons everywhere!

Dab hand at avian management across the continents? Time to test your fortunes with dragons. Pass me the fireproof gloves…

Dab hand at avian management across the continents? Time to test your fortunes with dragons. Pass me the fireproof gloves…

 Wyrmspan is the latest game in the ever expanding Wingspan flock. It challenges you to take on the role of a debuting dracologist seeking to entice dragons to take up residence in your freshly excavated cosy caves as you compete for the most victory points. Much like its sister game Wyrmspan features a large deck of playable creature cards with varied abilities which must be craftily chained, strategically synergised and perfectly placed to create combos and maximise points all while keeping an eye on round end scoring goals.


However do not be fooled into thinking Wyrmspan is a simple rescaling of the now wildly popular Wingspan. Designed by Connie Vogelmann of Apiary fame and developed by Elizabeth Hargrave the original Wingspan designer Wyrmspan retains many easily recognisable aspects while streamlining some mechanics and hatching others to create a fresh but accessible experience for Wingspan veterans. Wyrmspan still features individual player mats with three distinct habitats and their associated benefits, food dice are out and there are now four rather than five resources but dragons have one of four personality types which are referenced in round end goals and dragon card abilities.

Actions are no longer tracked by cubes but fuelled by coins which are refreshed to six each round. Each turn players choose one of three actions. The entice action is the most familiar for tabletop ornithologists, players pay a coin to play a dragon card on a suitable cave space within its preferred habitat. Each dragon has its own food requirements which must be paid and some powerful plays can even require eggs or additional coins which is an interesting departure giving players more decisions when it comes to managing eggs. Each dragon has one of four power types. Abilities that activate on other player turns are out, however many cavern cards provide for positive player interaction.

The excavate action is the biggest departure for Wyrmspan. Before a dragon can settle into a slot in one of the three cave habitats each space must be excavated. This is accomplished by playing cave cards onto the leftmost available space. The first space in each cavern is already excavated and ready for winged visitors. Cave cards cost a coin to play plus an egg cost for later excavations and provide a variety of instant benefits when played such gaining a resource or moving up the dragon guild track (more on this later) , some are more powerful that others and playing the right one at the right time to fuel your next move is vital as resources are generally harder to come by in Wyrmspan.

Finally players may chose to explore one of their caverns. This is similar to choosing an action and activating the row of birds in Wingspan but feels much more thematic. Players move their adventurer meeple from left to right along their cavern earning benefits from the track and any dragons in residence with triggered abilities stopping when they reach an unexcavated space.


While filling out their caverns with a growing dragon brood players will also be building their reputation with one of the dragon guilds which is randomly chosen at game start. Advancing on the circular track will earn various bonuses such as additional cards or resources. At the half way and full circle point players will chose a powerful one time benefit from the unique choices offered by each guild. This could be playing a card for free , gaining a coin or another game changing perk. Each ability is only available a limited amount of times so players who advance quickly may have the pick of the crop.

Wyrmspan does a great job building on an established system to offer new and interesting decisions. The addition of cave cards adds a new dimension to planning ahead, getting the right cards can make a huge difference. Unlike Wingspan cards in the display are not replenished after player selections, a welcome change as it increases player interaction and competition to take the best cards. The crimson cavern is the equivalent of Wingspans forest but it only offers two food resources even when fully explored and occupied so using the cavern card bonuses and dragon powers cleverly is essential to filling out your player mats quota of dragons. Each cavern can only accommodate four dragons rather than five birds, however the cave cards add a lot of strategic variability and overall game length if anything is slightly longer than core Wingspan.


I really appreciate the thematic addition of the adventurer meeple walking left to right through the caverns and interacting with the dragons nested there. It makes each dragon feel special and gives the game real personality compared to the abstract activation of a row in Wingspan-“I draw cards so all the birds in this row activate”. The clever design of Wyrmspan incentivises players to develop each cavern equally as repeated visits to a well developed cavern engine test the dragons patience. This is represented in game by increased costs. The first stroll through a given cavern costs a coin, the second claims a coin and an egg and the third will set you back a coin and two eggs. The egg costs may not seem like much but beware eggs are handled quite differently in Wyrmspan and are no longer a spamable points machine but rather a resource which must be managed wisely giving the player interesting new choices.

In Wyrmspan none of the caverns focus on egg laying, rather each grants just one egg when explored after the third dragon is domiciled. Each player gains an egg at the start of each of the four rounds. Some cavern cards and dragon abilities also provide eggs so bagging at least a couple of these is vital if you want to make the most of your crafty cavern engines. Excavating cave spaces three and four in each cavern also costs eggs so players will rarely end up with an egg horde for game end scoring. Instead they will have to evaluate egg expenditure in game which adds a new and interesting strategic layer while addressing the oft criticised Wingspan endgame which usually sees player repeatedly laying eggs for points there last few turns.

Despite the absence of flavour text on the dragon cards (they are also a little slimmer than standard cards) and the spending of eggs to excavate new caves rather than place dragons Wyrmspan feels like a tightly thematic experience that more richly rewards careful planning and asks more of the player than simply specialising in one habitat and repeating an optimal move. The rulebook teases more Wingspan variants to come and I can’t wait.

Wyrmspan costs a little more than the basic game. It doesn’t include the birdfeeder or the plastic storage and display for the cards. However the speckled dragon eggs look fantastic and the sheen on the cardboard coins works well. I especially enjoy the purple and gold eggs. Wyrmspan is a great option for families with older children and most may be more engaged with dragons rather than birds. We found like its cousin it often works best with two or three players otherwise it can feel a little lengthy for more casual players, especially without the interaction from abilities which are activated when other players take specific actions.

Wyrmspan can be purchased on Amazon.

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